Love the way that a fresh pop of color brings life to your locks? Have a hair dye situation go awry and need it fixed ASAP? Whatever your reason is for switching it up, keep in mind that there *are* limits to how often you can dye your hair. Overdoing it on the dye can turn your hair into a frizzy mess, or even make it fall out.
But where’s that line between luscious color and a damaged ‘do? It turns out, it’s different for everyone. Here’s how to find out what’s right for your hair.
How often can you dye your hair?
General advice says to wait at least 4 to 8 weeks in between hair colorings, but that figure comes with a lot of caveats.
According to colorist Cherin Choi, it all depends on your unique hair type, the dye process involved, and your desired look. “Different hair types can handle more or less,” Choi explains. For example, thicker hair can typically handle more stress than fine, curly hair, she says.
Getting a professional opinion is the only way to know for sure what will be best for your hair.
Permanent dye is the harshest dye option and also the biggest commitment. Made from a combo of chemicals like ammonia and hydrogen peroxide, these formulas open up the hair’s cuticle and permanently alter its internal structure.
It’s best to wait at least a couple months before using permanent dye again to prevent further damage — and only to touch-up the roots.
Since this type of dye is so hard on hair, Choi advises against it whenever possible and typically recommends other options for her clients. Basically, you need to wait until it grows out naturally or keep up the color. Choi jokes, “I always ask clients, ‘are you committed to doing this until you’re a grandma?’”
There’s also some evidence that certain components of permanent dye could be harmful to your health. Many of the problem chemicals were removed from dye formulas in the 1970s, but there isn’t much recent research to determine if existing chemicals are safe.
Semi or demi permanent hair color is a lot less harsh on your hair than permanent dye is. And if you’re commitment-phobic, you can relax — it doesn’t last forever. (Demi tends to last about 30 washings, while semi will last about 5.)
Though it’s formulated without ammonia, it may contain small amounts of peroxide to lift the cuticle so that the pigment can adhere to your locks.
Depending on the condition of your hair, you should be able to safely re-dye it every few weeks to a month — or in about 4 to 10 washes.
But remember that moderation is key. Don’t attempt to layer lots of colors within a matter of weeks — you need the existing shade to wash out first. Choi explains why this can go so wrong: “You know when you’re little — if you ever tried to mix your Neapolitan ice cream, it turns brown!”
Bleach primarily contains hydrogen peroxide, which “lifts” your natural hair color to a lighter hue. Since it strips the follicle, without proper care, it can potentially leave locks a little fragile or dry.
Even though bleach can be harsh, Choi says you can book an appointment for a touch-up basically as soon as your root grow-out starts to bug you. Just try to lay off the heat styling as much as possible in the interim, she advises.
And if you to go Paris Hilton platinum but you have jet-black hair, know that your mane can suffer damage if it doesn’t get enough TLC.
Love your new look? Here’s how to help it stay that way.
How to prevent damage
- Turn down the heat. Limit blow-drying, curling or straightening as much as possible to avoid dry, damaged hair. When you just *need* to feel the burn, always use a heat protectant product, which will insulate your strands. “Heat styling daily is just not the move,” Choi says.
- Use the proper products. Choi recommends using a pH balancing product, which will protect your hair cuticles, combat breakage, and seal in healthy oils. She also advises using a “hair sunscreen,” because yes — your hair can endure sun damage, too. And don’t forget hair masks, deep conditioners, and other moisturizing treatments!
- Mind your scalp. “What actually contributes to long-term hair health is having a healthy scalp,” Choi says. So be sure to shampoo and condition thoroughly (but not too frequently!) to avoid excessive buildup, oil, or dryness. Everyone’s Goldilocks *just right* hair care regimen varies, so chat with a stylist about your hair type to find out what might work best for you. It’s also smart to avoid things like abrasive metal brushes and ponytails so tight they hurt your head.
How to get color that lasts
It isn’t just your hair’s health you need to look after. There are several ways to lengthen the life of your hair color, too.
- Pick a color-safe wash and conditioner. Ideally, pick a shampoo and conditioner combo that are specifically designed for dyed hair. While some products contain harsh detergents that can strip your hair of its color, others work to preserve its natural oils to keep it looking vibrant. Talk to a pro about your options.
- Tone it up. Wait, why is your hair suddenly orange?! If you’ve gone lighter, use a purple shampoo or toner, or head to your colorist for regular toner applications to maintain your desired hue. Just don’t overdo it on these products.
- Wash with restraint. Most hair types don’t need to be washed every single day. To preserve your semi/demi color, consider cutting back to every other day or a few times a week. Of course, if your scalp’s at all oily, flaky or dirty — it’s time to lather up.
Need a color cleanup, stat?
Choi says everyone’s impulsive DIY box dye jobs over quarantine led to a *lot* of regret. If you feel like you can’t leave the house without a hat — we gotchu.
She says to pick up a hair color remover from your local drugstore that contains sulfur. This will help safely reverse the color. Then, make an appointment with a professional to set things right again.
While the general rule is to wait 4 to 6 weeks between hair colorings, this figure can vary widely based on your unique hair type, the type of dye, and your desired look.
Talk to your stylist about your unique #HairGoals to find out a sched that works for you. To preserve your hair health and your color, minimize heat styling, maintain a healthy scalp, and use products specifically designed for dyed hair.